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Missoula Personal Injury Blog

Psoriatic arthritis diagnosis often delayed for years

An estimated 30 to 40% of psoriasis patients in Montana and across the United States also develop a secondary condition known as psoriatic arthritis. Psoriatic arthritis is a disease that causes painful inflammation in the joints, tendons and ligaments. Unfortunately, psoriatic arthritis is often misdiagnosed.

A study published in Rheumatology Consultant found that 31% of those surveyed didn't receive a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis until five years after seeking medical assistance for symptoms. Only 30% were diagnosed within six months of going to the doctor, and 33% received a diagnosis between six months and four years of seeking help. Delayed diagnosis may cause a worsened medical condition to occur.

When it comes to driving, one distraction can lead to another

Drivers in Montana might believe that using hands-free cellphones while driving cuts down in distracted driving behavior, but data analyzed and released by Lytx, a company specializing in analyzing data and providing safety solutions for driving fleets in the commercial and public sectors, shows that the use of hands-free devices might actually lead to drivers engaging in at least one additional distracting activity.

While everyone is aware that holding and talking on a cellphone might result in motor vehicle accidents, many might not see the correlation between hands-free cellphones and other distracted driving behaviors. However, data shows that while the use of hands-free cellphones increased 27% in 2018, having free hands while talking seems to allow drivers to do other potentially distracting things, such as eating, drinking and using other devices. In addition, some drivers who use hands-free cellphones also engage in other risky behavior, including speeding, driving without a seat belt or following the vehicle ahead of them too closely.

AAA study highlights the limitations of hi-tech safety systems

Dealer showrooms in Montana and around the country are filled with cars that boast an impressive array of safety features, but some of the most advanced automobile technology could actually be contributing to accidents according to a study conducted recently by the American Automobile Association and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. The association's Foundation for Traffic Safety wanted to find out how adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist systems influenced driver behavior, so researchers watched videos of people behind the wheels of cars such as the Honda Accord, Tesla Model S and Acura MDX.

What they discovered raises questions about the unintended consequences of deploying semiautonomous technology without properly educating the public. The researchers found that drivers became distracted about twice as often when they engaged these systems, which suggests that motorists overestimate the capabilities of the latest car technology. The AAA and Virginia Tech researchers behind the study are not calling on auto manufacturers to withdraw features like adaptive cruise control and lane assist, but they do believe carmakers should stress the limitations of the technology as well as its benefits.

Hidradenitis suppurativa: an often misdiagnosed skin disease

Montana residents should be aware that there is a little-known skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, and it's the subject of many misdiagnoses and delayed diagnoses. A July 2019 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology published the results of a survey where 64% of HS patients said they had to visit five or more physicians before being formally diagnosed with it. Some had to wait over a decade for the correct diagnosis.

HS is characterized by boils that develop in those areas of the skin with hair follicles or sweat glands: for example, the armpit, folds of the stomach, buttocks and groin. These boils will seep out pus, disappear and then return. It is a chronic and painful disease; 15% of respondents in the JAAD survey report being disabled by it. It affects around 1 in 100 people.

Primary care doctors, outpatient facilities cause medical errors

It is estimated that between 210,000 and 440,000 people are killed or injured due to preventable medical errors in Montana and across the United States each year. Many people assume that busy hospital emergency rooms are to blame for these statistics; however, medical personnel in primary care and outpatient facilities also share the blame.

A recent study by researchers at the Whole Health Organization found that 40% of people who suffered negative effects due to medical errors had them occur in a primary care or outpatient setting. The WHO also estimated that 80% of these medical errors were preventable. Previous studies have found that the majority of medical care that people around the world receive takes place in an outpatient setting.

GPS devices are wonderful but dangerous

You might be one of many Montana drivers who use a global positioning system to help you navigate unfamiliar roadways. While such devices are becoming more commonplace, many people still find them almost magical. You plug in some information and a voice tells you how to get there. The only problem is GPS devices are not always reliable and may place you at an increased risk for collision.

There's a risk of both system error and human error when you use a GPS while driving. Sometimes, outdated information can cause navigation instructions to lead drivers on a wild goose chase. If you're looking for a road name on a street sign that hasn't existed for 10 years or more, you might wind up being late to arrive to your destination. GPS devices can cause driving distractions as well, which can cause collisions that result in injury.

Some memory loss traced to TBIs rather than Alzheimer's

Montana residents who know someone who suffers from memory loss should know that not all such cases stem from Alzheimer's disease. Some can be the result of a traumatic brain injury from the past. A new UCLA study has found that MRI scans can be critical in distinguishing between the two causes and in thus preventing Alzheimer's misdiagnoses.

The study analyzed 40 UCLA patients who suffered a TBI before and who were experiencing memory loss. The average age of the group was just below 68. Incidentally, adults aged 65 and older, along with children aged 4 and younger, are at the highest risk for falling: a major cause of TBIs. Adults aged 75 and older see the highest rate of TBIs, according to the CDC.

Fewer crash fatalities, but pedestrians face higher risk

For many drivers in Montana, the reported decline in roadway deaths in 2018 is relieving news pointing to greater safety on the roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 35,560 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions last year, a 2.4% decline over 2017 figures, which themselves reflected a decrease over the prior year. According to the NHTSA, these positive statistics are continuing with the first half of 2019 showing a 3.4% decline in highway fatalities. At the same time, however, pedestrians and cyclists may have additional cause for concern.

The NHTSA also reported that 6,283 pedestrians were killed in car crashes in 2018, an increase of 3.4% over 2017 figures. It also represents the largest single number of pedestrians killed since 1990. According to researchers at "Consumer Reports," pedestrian deaths dropped until 2009 but have risen 53% since that time. There were also 6.3% more cyclists who died in motor vehicle accidents in 2018 for a total of 857. The agency reported that it was looking into reasons for these pedestrian and cyclist deaths, including the prevalence of SUVs. It may be more difficult for motorists to see lone walkers in a taller vehicle.

Montana among worst states for teen drunk driving

Researchers at CheapCarInsuranceQuotes.com have come out with a list of the 15 worst states when it comes to teen drinking and driving. The study shows that there may be a connection between the number of high school students who drink and drive and the rate of drunk driving fatalities. Montana residents will want to know more because this state was third on the list.

First of all, drunk driving fatalities make up one third of all driving fatalities. Nationwide, an average of 3.4 per 100,000 people die in drunk driving crashes. Drunk driving is also behind thousands of injury cases. The CDC found that about 5.5% of all teens drive after drinking alcohol in any amount in spite of the federal law placing the minimum drinking age at 21.

What to be aware of when driving this fall

Drivers in Montana and throughout the United States need to be aware of the potential dangers that they face while driving during the fall season. For instance, roads can become slick when they are covered by rain or leaves that are falling off trees. In addition to making roads slippery, falling leaves can obscure traffic lines and other important markings. If rain and leaves are on the road at the same time, it can feel as if a person is driving on ice.

It is also important to be aware of those who spend as much time paying attention to the leaves as they do the road ahead of them. As the colors change, individuals may drive slowly to observe them or stop to take a picture without considering others around them. Driving during the early morning or early evening hours can be tougher in the fall because school is back in session.


Towe & Fitzpatrick, PLLC
619 SW Higgins, Ste. O
P.O. Box 1745
Missoula, MT 59806

Phone: 406-203-5148
Phone: 406-829-1669
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